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French: Fresh, fun & effortless media

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Crush
Diglot
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ChinaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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 Message 609 of 1317
30 June 2013 at 4:25am | IP Logged 
Awesome, thanks! Now i've got more than enough to get me through a lifetime.

I also don't mind translations, but really if i can read the language the book was originally written in i'd much rather read that. I'm less picky when first starting to read in a language, though, since translations generally seem to be easier to understand.

Anyway, thanks again! I've got a nice list of books now to look for.
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emk
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 Message 610 of 1317
04 July 2013 at 1:58pm | IP Logged 
Je suis à Montréal jusqu'à samedi soir. S'il y a quelqu'un de HTLAL qui voudrait une pause café, contactez-moi par PM.

J'ai aussi fait une carte de librairies à Montreal basée sur le log de songlines :

Librairies de Montréal
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emk
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 Message 611 of 1317
08 July 2013 at 2:27pm | IP Logged 
Je suis de retour !

Montreal, as always, was a blast. Thursday was a great day, thanks to the recommendations of songlines. I visited two bookstores on her list, which were about two blocks apart.

Librairie Planète BD

This place was a revelation. I'm used to Renaud-Bray, which typically has 20 or 30 good BDs among several hundred crappy ones. But Planète BD takes a different approach: They stock the good BDs and the amazing ones, and they only stock the "classic" junky BDs that everybody knows about. Keeping that in mind, take a look at the photos:





Frankly, I had no idea that there were so many amazing BDs. The French don't just have a hundred-odd excellent BDs; they have thousands that are worth reading, and even the francophone employees who sell them for a living despair a bit when they think of all the good stuff they'll never have time to read. I bought:

Paul au parc. Thanks, songlines and kanewi! This looks awesome.
La Trilogie Nikopol (l'intégral). Thanks, lorinth!
L'Orbital, tomes 1 & 2. A recommendation from the clerk. Fun, light science fiction.

Honorable mentions go to the following BDs, which I considered but ended up not buying: Blake et Mortimer : Le Mystère de la grande pyramide (this is a lot like Tintin, of which my wife already owns a stack) and Valérian et Laureline (an old but popular SF BD, which looks pretty good).

The clerk was really helpful, with lots of good recommendations. And despite the fact that he spoke full speed with a pretty thick Quebec accent, I was able to understand a good 75% of what he said. I have no idea why my comprehension of Quebec accents has improved so much; I've spent less than 15 hours total listing to Quebec podcasts and randomly chatting with people, and I'm starting to take it for granted that I'll understand a big fraction of what most people are saying. I suspect that all my TV watching is finally paying off in a big way.

Also worth noting: Planète BD has fairly competitive prices. They can also ship, though that's more expensive.

Librairie Michel Fortin

This is a 5-minute walk from Planète BD, and it has a really impressive selection of language courses, grammars, workbooks, test preparation books, books about language, and so on. They cover most major languages and many minor ones, and they focus heavily on schoolbooks and courses like Assimil, not mass-market junk like Rosetta Stone. If you're looking for courses or grammars, it's the place to go. And Arekkusu's book was displayed prominently in the shop window! There were about 4 or 5 copies vertically displayed right next to the door.

I took a good, hard look at the test prep books for the DALF C1 and the TCF, and it was my second revelation for the day: je m'en fiche de tous ces examens. I mean, there's nothing wrong with these exams in and of the themselves; French is blessed with very good official exams that actually require you to be pretty good at the language. But I just can't bring myself to care, especially when I'm carrying a big bag of awesome BDs. The idea of grinding my way through a TCF workbook or mastering the ins and outs of the DALF C1 synthèse, frankly, just isn't doing it for me right now. I have BDs, novels and TV series to enjoy, an excellent tutor, and plenty of people to talk to, and I just can't work up the enthusiasm for exams right now.

After leaving Michel Fortin empty handed, I stopped down the street at a nice crêperie (Bistro La bulle au carré) and ate a delicious Breton crèpe with apples and caramel au beurre salé. That brought back some happy memories of visiting the Breton coast with my wife many years ago! Plus, Bistro La bulle au carré has lots of BDs on the tables for customers to read. Worth a stop if you like crèpes.

Friday's lesson & inconsistent speaking

After my awesome Thursday, where I managed to navigate French Quebec with scarcely a second thought, my French crashed hard on Friday morning, and my spoken fluency actually dropped well below B2.

This is the central problem with my French. Sometimes I can speak easily and fairly well about a respectable range of subjects. Other times everything shuts down. I stammer, I stutter, I make (and correct) a huge number of faults. In short, I struggle, visibly and painfully.

I don't control any of this directly. Factors which help include: listening to lots of French, thinking in French, singing along with fast French rap, sleeping enough, warming up, being "on". But it's a crapshoot. Somehow I need to take my best moments and make them the new baseline. And it's not like it's a simple matter of practice: I've logged a lot of spoken hours for somebody who isn't living in the country.

There is, however, the question of environment. Consider what happens with kids:

a. If they have a monolingual French peer group of their own age, they'll consistently become native speakers.

b. If they have one parent who consistently speaks French with them, their abilities will be all over the map: some kids will be pretty good, others will have only passive skills, and a more than a few will be entirely lost, with only rudimentary passive comprehension. Success isn't guaranteed; it's a matter of motivation, interest and talent. (And yes, all these actually matter even with 2-year-olds.)

I speak French at a home, and have done so for over a year. But I'm functioning in a type (b) environment, not a type (a) environment. Essentially, I'm an adult heritage learner with a big supply of native media. But it's a very different thing from spending 6 months in France with a monolingual peer group.

What I somehow need to do is take my best moments and turn them into the new baseline. I have no real strategy for this, other than randomly talking a lot and trying to do a good job. Clearly I would benefit enormously from 6 months in a type (a) environment, but that's not in the cards right now.

So speaking is still a mess: Sometimes I walk though French Quebec without a second thought, and sometimes I sound like a total idiot with a big vocabulary.

Another recommendation

The French version of Game of Thrones (Le trône de fer) is worth a look. The translation is good, the dubbing is professional and the pronunciation is clear. The French subtitles are almost always abridged, but unlike Buffy, they do bear some relation to the actual dialog.

This show, like many HBO shows, is not for kids. There is gore, sex, substantial nudity and lots of Bad Stuff. But the budget was obviously huge, and I now understand why both English speakers and French speakers are watching this show in huge numbers.

The DVDs I picked up from Amazon.fr have audio in about 5 languages, and subtitles in about 10. There's also a really excessive number of special features, thought I think they're all in English.

Edited by emk on 08 July 2013 at 4:30pm

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Cavesa
Triglot
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 Message 612 of 1317
08 July 2013 at 2:44pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for recomendations. Those photos made me want to jump into the next plane to Canada. :-)

Why do they make abridged subtitles? I really think the people in the fun industry do everything to give people even more reasons to download pirated versions instead of the original ones. I have never seen abridged amateur subtitles (even though plenty with mistakes of course). How can the movie makers dare to sell less than 100% quality product?

I consider buying the same version of GoT with several languages but this is one of the things making me hesitate. Do you know of a way to add alternative subtitles? I would need to put the series from the DVD to my computer anyways as I only have an external DVD mechanics that makes unpleasant noise and isn't practical to be carried around.
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emk
Diglot
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 Message 613 of 1317
08 July 2013 at 4:09pm | IP Logged 
Cavesa wrote:
I consider buying the same version of GoT with several languages but this is one of the things making me hesitate. Do you know of a way to add alternative subtitles? I would need to put the series from the DVD to my computer anyways as I only have an external DVD mechanics that makes unpleasant noise and isn't practical to be carried around.

If you want to use a fansub file with a legal DVD, what you need is good "DVD ripper" software, which converts DVD video to MP4 files. I use Handbrake. If you're in a country that allows you legally bypass DRM, you can add a copy of libdvdcss (do a Google search), and you should be able to deal with most DVDs. Then find an SRT subtitle file for the series (or film) that you want to use, and figure out how to make your video player use it. (Again, Google is your friend.) Once you make it this far, it's also worth taking a look at subs2srs if you're interested, because you've already done 80% of the work. If for some reason Handbrake and libdvdcss fail, you'll need to go shopping for a more advanced DVD ripper, or possible pick up a second DVD drive for use with region 2 DVDs (some DVD drives will lock to a single region after about 5 movies).

But as for Le trône de fer, all this is probably unnecessary. I had something like 90% comprehension from the first episode, because the French dub is really clear. And even though the subs are abridged, it's almost always a matter of several missing words. It's not like Buffy, where the French subs are a literal translation from English, but the French audio was heavily tweaked to get excellent lip synch and idiomatic speech, or like Engranges, where the differences between the subs and the actual slurred dialog are enough to make me want to cry. So I think this would be a great series for anybody who's already made it through a season of French TV, and who who doesn't mind the occasional bloody decapitation or pile of half-naked prostitutes.

What I've watched so far

Just for fun, here's what I've watched to date:

Buffy. About 5 seasons, or 100+ 45-minute episodes. I used the transcript for part of season 1. With luck, you can get the entire box set of 7 or 8 seasons for about $100.
Angel. 1 season, and part of the second. I didn't try the subs.
Random French TV via VoilaTV. 15 to 20 hours.
Ulysse 31. 26 22-minute episodes, or something like that? No subs. Fun in an 80s sort of way.
L'Avater. 61 22-minute episodes, no subs. Highly recommended.
Le trône de fer, season 1. Just starting.

In the queue: Season 1 of both Les Revenants and Kaamelott.

So Le trône de fer is my fifth real series, and the first one where I didn't need a few hours to get up to speed. All in all, TV is a really fun way to turn basic listening skills and solid reading skills into pretty decent listening skills.
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Elexi
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 Message 614 of 1317
08 July 2013 at 7:22pm | IP Logged 
I went through the first series of GoT in French with the VF transcripts on hypnoweb.net
- which helped tremendously:

http://game-of-thrones.hypnoweb.net/episodes/saison-1.194.3/
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Cavesa
Triglot
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 Message 615 of 1317
08 July 2013 at 11:09pm | IP Logged 
Well, the "law" allows me to make a back up copy, so there shouldn't be much of a difference whether the copy is on a computer or another DVD. Thanks a lot for all the advice, I will look into it. :-)

Elexi, would you happen to know where to find other transcripts as well? For example Caprica, Eureka, Fringe? I might even choose what to watch based on trascripts :-) You know, I don't need subtitles for French to watch and understand the series nearly at all (I still struggle with people with speech impediments, some of the old people and most importantly people speaking while crying,sobbing etc.). But I would love to transform them into printable .doc files that I could use as a textbook of advanced and colloquial language and learn to use actively all the things I love when I hear them. You know, I could write down every sentence that catches my attention. But it would ruin the pleasure of watching completely.

Thanks!

emk:a small recommendation for your queue: La Prophecie d'Avignon. 8 episodes of nice, original French. A Dan Brownish story.
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Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3116 days ago

3277 posts - 6778 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 616 of 1317
08 July 2013 at 11:31pm | IP Logged 
Elexi, I love you! If I could click the "useful" button a hundred times, I certainly would!
This is awesome! There are transcripts for more series or at least they are being worked on. This could be one of the most wonderful resources for French I have seen in years!


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